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Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, as well as in immune, nerve, and muscle function. In addition, it may play a role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Most children and adults (ages 1 to 70) need 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, though older adults need a bit more.

The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can actually make and absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. According to the NIH, 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies widely depending on the season, time of day, cloud cover, skin color, and sunscreen use, so eating food sources of vitamin D (such as fortified dairy products, or some mushrooms) is also important.

If you aren’t able to get outdoors in the middle of the day or if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, include these foods in your diet:

Vegan Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving Vitamin D (IU)
Maitake mushrooms ** 1 cup, diced 786
Portobello mushrooms ** 1 cup, sliced 634
Soy milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 120*
Almond milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 100*
Chanterelle mushrooms, raw** 1 cup 114
Orange juice, fortified with
vitamin D
1 cup 100*
Soy yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 150 grams 80*
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with vitamin D ¾ – 1 cup 40*

Vegetarian Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving VITAMIN D (IU)
Milk, low-fat, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 127
Yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 6 ounces 80
Egg 1 whole, medium 41
Cheese, Swiss 1 ounce 6


Do I need a supplement?

Vegetarian and Vegan Menu Plan Book

As with all dietary supplements, it’s important to discuss vitamin D supplementation with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re vegan. Your healthcare provider can help you determine how much (if any) supplementation is right for you. Vegans may be at greater risk for low vitamin D intake, but they can obtain vitamin D from regular exposure to sun and fortified foods.

For a more guided look at how to build healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out our Oldways 4-week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan, which will help you create satisfying, balanced, budget-friendly meals inspired by cuisines from different cultures. The recipes are based off of the Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and feature an abundance of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices.

Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition


**Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure.
*May vary depending on product.
All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.

 

If you’re interested in healthy eating, join the Make Every Day Mediterranean Club Facebook group for additional information and support.

Comments

Dulu Boruah
Very useful.
Douglas A Johnston
So apart from mushrooms there are little or no vegetable sources of vitamin D. Why an article that says "vegetable" when what you really mean is "fortified" alternatives?
Darshil Shah
What does Fortified stand for? Is that separate product?
mmoore
Hi Darshil, thanks for the question! "Fortified" means that a nutrient was added to a food that it originally did not contain or contained in small amounts. So in this case, fortified milk means more vitamin D was added during processing. It's an added bonus because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Divad
If you believe in fortified (processed), just take vitamin D pills. If you don't (like me), get it naturally (without fortified).
Harsh
Yes
Integrity
Fortified mean the manufacture added it, it does not naturally come in the product. Milk is fortified with vitamin D so the human body can absorb the calcium in milk, which is the important nutrient. Calcium forms our bones. The human body generate vitamin D in the sun, in some states, there is not an abundance of Sun [and lacking in some winter months]. Given vitamin D is not readily found in foods, it is added [called fortified with] to milk.
Chinmay
I think, we all have the Sun. So just throw out your kids in the sun to play rather than playing indoor games. Best way to get vitamin D. The problem will only occur for people in north and South of the world which has Sunlight available for only 6 months a year.
Josh13
You don’t get vitamin D from the sun, the sun helps our bodies absorb it.
Lee1718
Josh13, the sun doesn't help our bodies absorb vitamin D. The ultra violate rays from the sun when put in contact with the epidermal layers cause a synthesizing phenomenon to occur which results in the creation of vitamin D. Here, read this: The skin is responsible for producing vitamin D. During exposure to sunlight, ultraviolet radiation penetrates into the epidermis and photolyzes provitamin D3 to previtamin D3. ... Therefore, the skin is the site for the synthesis of vitamin D and a target tissue for its active metabolite. Here's the source for that information... Skin as the site of vitamin D synthesis and target tissue for 1,25 - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2825606
Kaveri
Beautifully explained.......thank you so much
Wizz
I agree... Thanks for the info
Rakshit
Thanks for sharing most important thingñ
Trisha82
There's not enough vitamin d you can make from the sun, unless you're by the equator. It's a complete myth that getting adequate sun anywhere else, will be enough.
Sofia
Agreed. Plus, it can predispose to skin cancer in certain populations
Sgsili
Thank you for the accurate information. I hate posts that contain misinformation especially when it comes to our health.
Germain Lopez
Oookay! Am I right if I summarize, we need the ultraviolet part of the sun rays on our skin, so the skin will modify the pre vitamin into provitamine D uups
Stacy
I love outdoors and would stay out there evening to dark and I'm struggling with my vitamin d...
mmmk
research founds out that people with dark skin dosen't absorb much vitamin d as peo pole with white skin but it is true that all skin color is brown but lighter and darker for diffrent people.
Laurie
Unfortunately that doesn't work for everyone. My body doesn't process Vitamin D from the sun so I have to take it in pills otherwise I'm deficient.
AJIT KANKARIA
VERY GOOD INFORMATION
Charles
What are some trusted vegan brands that offer Vitamin D3 drops or capsules?
kelly-oldways
Hi Charles, We don't recommend one particular supplement or another. We suggest that you speak with your pharmacist, dietitian, or physician to find a trusted brand that is available in your area.
Jay
My Father is lacking in vitamin-D and we are pure vegetarian family and also he is not able to get sunshine because of his office work. So Is there any alternatives to get Vitamin-D other than medicine?
venkat
i am also victim of above question raised. pl advise.
kelly-oldways
Hi Jay & Venkat, Many popular foods, such as some milks, cereals, and even orange juice are sometimes fortified with Vitamin D. Check out the list of Vitamin D sources in this blog article for more examples. You can also make an appointment with a registered dietitian in your area, to help build a meal plan that works for you.
Not Your Momma'...
I truly believe that we are victims of our own world... it only takes about 7-15 mins in the sun (without sunscreen and perhaps a little more dependent on where you are in relation to the equator) to get enough sunlight for your body to do its job. Getting outside to roll up your sleeves, breathe some fresh air, stretch your legs and take a mindful break are all critical components to good overall health. People are too dependent on pills and supplements!! I say, spare this little amount of time each day for your health now, or allow it to accumulate and you'll be spending your days in a chemo chair or a hospital bed later.... just a thought....
1010621
I think you forget that there is such a thing called winter.... and you cannot get vitamin D through a window
Anonymous
I agree with you 1010621. And I live in the UK so where am I going to get sun, it's hard enough in the summer let alone the winter.
molly kuslikis
I live in Michigan in the USA, we rarely see sun here during the winter. Winter also stays 6 months out of 12.
mjs
If it were that easy! Unfortunately for those who work and live in the north your suggestion is just not realistic. Just a thought...
Chrissy
Actually not everyone absorbs vitamin d thru the sun my skin is a beige/olive tone I spend 2-3hrs in and out of the sun no sunscreen in Arizona and I was still diagnosed with d difficiancy if I don’t take it in vitamin pill form my legs ache and my depression level goes up. Everyone is different. For Thor’s if you looking for a vegan brand try country life it’s available at sprouts and whole foods .
marcy
Google Foods that contain Vitamin D. There are so many foods that have it- i had no idea. Mushrooms are one... Vitamin D also helps your body absorb Vitamin C ( some orange juices have vitamin D added)...I am very low in my vitamin D and have been researching online. My number was 17 last time i went. I am vitamin D deficient--found this out when i fractured my foot and it wouldn't heal after 6 months.
Vit-D way low
My level was 12
Carrie
The only food with actual Vitamin D are mushrooms. To get Vitamin D from other foods, it has to have been added (that's what "Fortified with D" means)
Sara
It is also in oily fish and eggs (hens that are not kept indoors all the time and have food high in vitamin d produce eggs 3-4 times higher in vitamin d). Mushroom omelettes!
Me2
I’m deficient in vitamin D. Got put on prescription strength chewable tablets for 8 weeks. My doctor basically said that where I live (central California) and my pigmentation (I am Hispanic) I would never get enough vitamin D even if I were to lie naked outside. This helped me realize how important supplementing with vitamins is.
Ms Hunt
I recently had my blood work done and my dr said I needed 4000 for a month then 2000 after that for the foreseeable future. Why would I suddenly be so low in vitaminD?
kelly-oldways
Hi Ms Hunt, There are many factors that can affect the absorption of nutrients in the body. Your best bet is to talk to your healthcare providers to learn more.
Deb D
I'm curious about this: Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure. Does this mean that we can buy mushrooms from the grocery store and put them in the sun for a couple of hours and it helps increase the vitamin D levels?
kelly-oldways
Hi Deb, It seems that some people have tried this with some success (https://fungi.com/blogs/articles/place-mushrooms-in-sunlight-to-get-your-vitamin-d) However, since there isn't an easy way to measure the levels at home, we can't really predict what the results would be. Perhaps you could reach out to the brands who sell mushrooms to learn more, and to find out if it is safe to handle their product in that way.
Jacinthe Côté
I just wanted to inform everyone that bakers yeast can naturally produce Vitamin D, similar to humans and mushrooms! Lallemand has developed a process that exposes bakers yeast to UV light and triggers the natural production of its own Vitamin D. Yeast being a vegetarian and natural ingredient, bread made with our VitaD bakers yeast can be a great source of Vitamin D for vegetarians/vegans
diane arms
Never eat any bakers yeast raw. It will harm your liver. People died during prohibition by eating yeast and drinking an acidic juice turning their livers into "stills".
Logics
I find it hard to believe that orange is the only fruit to provide vitamin D in a planet filled with a large variety of fruit and vegetables. If u do ur research, ull notice that every site has the same damn list. I guess, I ll just have to do my research on each and every fruit and vegetable available to get the right answer the answer is being biased by money.
Danyeal
Agree 100%. Their has to be other options.
kelly-oldways
Fortified orange juice is on this list because it's fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is interesting compared with other vitamins because it is produced endogenously from UV rays. Some mushrooms contain vitamin D if they are exposed to UV light, but not all do.
Dr Vighnesh
Orange has vitamin C, which is crucial for absorption of vit D from diet. You need Vit C to inc ur vit D. Check for vit C deficiency too always, if ur doing all u can for vit d and still get seficiency of d. Chances are, u also have defociency of vitamon D
Sara
No oranges do not provide vitamin d, it is sometimes added to orange juice, so fortified orange juice contains vitamin d.
Orchid
Yes there must be a plant source of vitamin D. Read between the lines plant source all plants use sunlight "D" for photosynthesis. Could there maybe, be a connection between Sunlight, Photosynthesis and Vitamin "D"?????????
Bev
I cannot believe that- with the very healthy diet I follow, I have just been prescribed 20,000 iu Vit D tablets twice a week. I grow most of my veg ( therefore out in the garden/ allotment) have tan lines on my arms legs and top of my feet- therefore in direct sunlight, I eat lots of fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms etc HOW can I be deficient??

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